The latest U.S. Census Bureau estimate shows little change in the slow growth pattern of the state. The coordinator of the State Data Center, Gary Krob, says a central Iowa county is once again the leader in growth. “Dallas County is the fastest growing county in the state of Iowa — had been for a number of years now — and at a significant pace too,” Krob says. He says it was “pretty significant” growth at 12.9 percent since 2010, with the next closest in growth being Johnson County at 6.3 percent.
Dallas County sits just west of Polk County — the state’s largest county and home of the state capital. The growth rate there is the 17th best in the country. Twenty-nine counties gained population, while the remaining 70 all lost people. “If you look at all the growth in the State of Iowa, a vast majority of the growth is occurring in the metropolitan areas versus the rural areas. Rural areas are losing population,” Krob says. Nine of the 10 fastest growing counties are in metropolitan areas.
Krob says there weren’t many things that stood out in the new numbers. “The growth patterns we’re seeing have been fairly consistent for the last few years,” Krob says. “The Iowa City metropolitan area grew at a slightly higher rate than the Des Moines/West Des Moines metropolitan area — and that’s slightly unusual. Usually Des Moines and West Des Moines grows at a slightly faster rate.”
The Iowa City metro area grew by nearly 5.6 percent. While the Des Moines and West Des Moines metro areas increased five-point-three percent. Krob says you can draw some conclusions on why the metro areas are growing faster than the rural areas. “You don’t know for sure why the growth is occurring where it is. But when you do see growth in the metropolitan areas and you see the metropolitan areas growing at the rate that they are, and that’s where the job growth is also (happening) in the state — and you can draw a correlation between the two,” Krob explains.
The estimated overall growth rate for the state was one-half percent, not a lot, but not a lost. “We haven’t lost population since the mid 1980s. So, we don’t grow fast, we just have a nice slow, steady pace,” Krob says. You can see a more complete breakdown of the numbers on the State Data Center website at: www.iowadatacenter.org.